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The Bridges of Sheldon Springs aka "Olmsteadville"



Built in 1836 the Bancroft Covered Bridge built at Olmstead Falls spanned the Missisquoi River near the present steel bridge between Sheldon Springs and Shawville along the Shawville Road. The bridge continued in use until a flood of 1887 or 1888 demolished it and a steel bridge followed in its place. It received the name "Bancroft" since the lumber and timbers used in the erection of the bridge originated from the nearby Bancroft Saw Mill one of the first saw mills in Sheldon. Note there are no center abutments with all original timbers traversing the river from north to south across the entire span.



A steel bridge soon followed the Bancroft covered bridge. Berlin won the contract with a bid of $5,300 and subcontracted with the regionally important Vermont Construction Company for the abutments and piers. The completed bridge was accepted by the town in November of 1887. The plaque at the top of the bridge reads Vermont Construction Company St Albans, VT 1887



Not 6 months later the bridge was destroyed by spring flooding in March of 1888. Ice and high water caused the center pier to fail, leading to the destruction of the truss spans. Given that the bridge was warranted for 25 years, a lawsuit ensured between Berlin Iron Bridge Co. and Vermont Construction Co. as to the liability. In the end the Jury sided with Berlin that the pier hadn't been suitably built to withstand the troublesome riverbed.



With the cost covered, Berlin offered to rebuild the bridge as either a single span lenticular truss or a Suspension Bridge. At the time this Bridge was erected it was the only Suspension Bridge in the State.  It was 250 feet long from center to center of the towers.  It had a sixteen foot roadway.  At the west end the anchors were fastened into the ledge upon which the west end abutment was built.  The East shore anchorage was also a ledge, but farther from the abutment, and much lower than the floor of the bridge. This bridge lasted until it too was destroyed by flooding in 1927


Following the flood a second steel bridge was erected in 1928. It continues to serve the town on the Shawville Road.